Type: Fretted > Box > Zither > Chordophones.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Region: Scandinavia & Northern Europe.
Description: The hummel or humle is an old instrument. That was once common in both Scandinavia and the surrounding areas of Northern mainland Europe. The hummel is directly related to the Norwegian Langeleik. The name hummel is from the the German word hummel meaning ‘humming bee’ a reference to the sound of the drones produced by accompaniment strings.
History: The hummel likely originates from the Middle Ages. Where it was all over Europe in slightly differing variants. During the 18th century the hummel was quite common in Netherlands, Flanders, Northern Germany and in Denmark. The earliest evidence of the instrument in Swedish folk culture is from the 17th century. It seems to have been common in the southern regions of the country.
The hummel was considered a primitive instrument during the 19th century. Its popularity decreased. In Flanders these instruments appeared during the 17th century. Where the hummel was quite popular with the soldiers in the trenches during World War 1. During the 1920s and 1930s the instrument returned to obscurity.
Hummel were mainly musical instruments that were in played in a home with family and they were widely played by women. Since the folk revival of the 1970s enthusiasts began taking up the instrument and playing again.
Citations: Boone Hubert, De hommel in de Lage Landen, Instrumentenmuseum en Volksmuziekarchief – Brussel, 1976